Leah C. Salterio – The Philippine Star

November 22, 2021 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The last time a premiere night was enjoyed in local showbiz was perhaps in the 2019 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), a few months before the pandemic turned the world upside down and wreaked havoc on the entertainment scene.

At that time, Viva FilmsMMFF entry, Miracle in Cell No. 7, with Aga Muhlach, child actress Xia Vigor and Bela Padilla, had a star-studded premiere that led to the film becoming the multi-million top grosser that year.

However, the closure of cinemas lost major revenue streams for local producers, who had been used to churning out much-awaited film releases. That led the producers to understandably pivot and adjust their income-generating film projects to the new normal.

That has been close to two years ago. The recent lifting of quarantine measures and downgrading the COVID-19 alert levels, gave new hope to local producers that once again, good days are coming soon.

In a long while, Viva saw one of its latest releases in a recent premiere night in the cinema again. More Than Blue, the adaptation of South Koreas heart-rending drama, premiered at the Robinsons Magnolia Cinema.

The glitz and glamor of showbiz was experienced anew as the lead stars of the movie showed up in the flesh at the premiere night.

Led by Yassi Pressman and JC Santos, the lead stars of More Than Blue, the cast included Diego Loyzaga, who came happily draped in the arms of his girlfriend of one year this December, Barbie Imperial.

JC and Yassi grace the premiere night at Robinsons Magnolia Cinema.

Diego and Barbie also topbill another coming romantic release of Vivamax, Dulo, directed by Fifth Solomon.

Although More Than Blue can now be shown in local theaters, it has been earlier announced to be streamed on Vivamax. “That schedule has been in the grid of Vivamax already,” informed director Nuel Naval. “They cannot change that anymore.”

The premiere night, however, was subjected to rules and protocols, set by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force). Only one-third of the capacity of Cinema 5 in Robinsons Magnolia in Quezon City, was allowed to be used.

Vaccination cards were strictly checked before entry was allowed to anyone and social distancing in the seating arrangement was evidently enforced. Two empty seats in between separate guests. No food nor drinks were allowed inside the theater.

An early dinner was scheduled at Botejyu Japanese Restaurant at the ground floor of the mall. The dining place was not filled to its capacity. Botejyu is one of the chains, owned by the Del Rosario family, who is behind the Viva Group of Companies.

Direk Nuel is really thankful that local cinemas are now slowly opening. The two-hour movie, More Than Blue, was undoubtedly a three-hanky weepie. Not a dry eye in the audience exited the theater after the film concluded. Screenplay is by Mel Mendoza del Rosario.

Diego Loyzaga, who’s also part of the movie’s main cast, is accompanied by his girlfriend Barbie Imperial.

Viva Films VP for theatrical sales, distribution and marketing, Leigh Legaspi, was in attendance, too. Along with a few members of the entertainment press.

JC essays the character of K, the dying best friend of Cream, played by Yassi. Both are orphans who share one house, but without love in between — or so they thought.

It greatly helped that JC previously worked with direk Nuel in Miracle in Cell No. 7. The latter also directed him in three Maalaala Mo Kaya episodes just this pandemic.

Admittedly, direk Nuels lead actress was a “revelationin More Than Blue, which marks his first time to work with Yassi. “I used to watch her in Probinsyano and her other movies, like Camp Sawi (2016),” he said.

Yassi is a revelation in More Than Blue. While I was editing, I kept on saying, ang galing ni Yassi.”

Prior to working at the helm of the movie, direk Nuel had no expectations about Yassi. “Ang laki ng maturity niya as an actress,” he said about his female lead. “Proud ako na ang galing niya talaga dito.”

Not for anything else and not just because this is my film,” he added. “Pero ang husay talaga ni Yassi dito sa More Than Blue. Whether or not its a light scene or even a heavy scene, she always gives her best. Ang husay niya. This is an acting piece for her.”

Meanwhile, direk Nuel also praised JC after working with the actor anew. “Si JC, given na ‘yan na magaling at alam ko na how he works and acts. Alam ko na ang kapasidad niya as an actor. Si JC, laging may bagong binibigay.”

Nuel Naval is the director of the Vivamax film.

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